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Grand Chute police work to crack down on prostitution problem

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GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ) - Authorities in Grand Chute say they've been successful in cracking down on a prostitution problem.

That's all due to a new ordinance and cooperation from hotels.

"We were somewhat taken aback by the problem, and we knew that simply investigation and enforcement was not going to curtail that problem," says Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson, who adds it's been a priority since 2011.

Peterson says, last July, the town put part of the burden on hotels, where the vast majority of the prostitution takes place, to help do their part. And the results have been encouraging. 

"Staffs have been trained by management, they know what to look for and they have been calling us on a regular basis when they see signs of prostitution taking place on their properties," Peterson told FOX 11.

Under the ordinance, the 20 hotels in Grand Chute are rated by the police department based on the number of police calls per hotel room. Based on their ratings, 7 hotels have been required to add security cameras, staffing around the clock and participate in a crime prevention program. 

President of the Fox Cities Lodging and Hospitality Association Ryan Beebe says preventing prostitution is something hotels are now working on together.

"If we see someone getting caught at one of the other hotels, a lot of us are reaching out to each other to inform them of these people's names so they don't get the problem. We're not trying to push this to another hotel, we're trying to stop it," Beebe told FOX 11.

Beebe says curbing prostitution will not only improve a hotel's image, but also help prevent other crimes from occurring.

"The more we're trying to get rid of it, the more Grand Chute will be put on that map of 'hey, don't go up there, all the hotels are watching it and they're working with the police."

Peterson says so far, no hotels have been cited for violations under the ordinance more than twice. Fines range from over $2,600 for a first offense up to more than $5,100 for a third violation.

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